This will be my first Ludum Dare. My brother’s been doing this kinda thing for a few years now, and while I’ve always been into programming and game design, I’ve at the same time always regarded accelerated game development challenges with something akin to a child looking at exotic animals in a zoo. I’m not a game developer. In this area you might at best call me a game mechanic prototyper. My area of expertise largely falls in the bounds of website development. Making good, well-designed, well-coded, widely-accessible websites is something I’ve spent a lot of time doing and take a lot of pride in. Even so, one can only take so much discussion and harrassment before they become interested in something for real. I very much want to give this LD thing a try, to see what it’s all about first-hand, and learn as much about it and myself as possible.
All that being said, I do consider myself more knowledgeable on the game development side of things, but only because that is the side of programming that I tend to play around in and experiment with (as opposed to “real work”). I have little to no experience actually finishing or polishing functional games. I’ve also spent quite a lot of time reading others’ experiences (for someone who is yet to participate, anyway) and advice, so I believe myself as ready as a total newbie can be. My plan is to make something as simple and straightforward as possible, with very little text or narrative, focusing primarily on a simple graphical style and solid gameplay. Hopefully my confidence in my planning ability won’t backfire, haha.
In keeping with what seems to be tradition, here are the tools I will be using:
- GameMaker 8.1 – Easily my weapon of choice when it comes to quick prototyping. I wish I could be programming in C# or Python, but time will not be on my side, and GameMaker is my best choice for speed.
- Photoshop CS5 – I’ve been using Photoshop for years, even longer than I’ve been doing any kind of coding or web dev. This is definitely my playground away from “real” games, and I have total comfort with it.
- Notepad++ – Been using this for all kinds of coding and programming for years, and proudly so. Obviously the inbuilt GameMaker editor will be my primary coding tool, but you never know.
- SFXR/BFXR – Sound is probably the single area of media development I have absolutely zero experience in whatsoever. I’m so glad something like these exist, especially since they seem pretty legit from my limited messing around.
- AutoTracker-Bu – Ditto to the above sentiments, except music is even harder, and thus I am even more appreciative. I haven’t played around with this yet, but I’ve resigned myself to no music at all if need be, so I doubt it will let me down.
- SchismTracker – To export the output of AutoTracker to WAV. Not much more to be said here.
- DaFont – I’ll probably not need this, but as with Notepad++, you never know. It’s a great resource.
- Asana – Project management tools are amazing. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to mess around in this during the event itself, but surely it will be useful.
- Chronolapse – Because why would I write a script to capture my screen every X seconds when a program already exists for it? I probably won’t use this to actually compile the timelapse, that responsibility will fall to…
- AviSynth – Script-based video production. Honestly, I have complete faith in Chronolapse, but I just like AviSynth too much to abandon it.
- Pen, Paper and Camera – Let’s face it, sometimes doing something by hand is way more efficient. Concept drawings ahoy!
I’m just gonna put this out there right now… I plan to make a ninja platformer. Sure, it’s not original, but you can’t go wrong with ninjas, and platformers are not too hard. The goal here is to have a very broad and flexible idea sorted so that I can focus on the important stuff (gameplay). I reject the “everyone does it so let’s do something else” train of thought, I do not believe in it, I believe there are advantages to doing what is popular, and even when doing what it popular it is still possible to stand out. Also, adaptive creativity is something I consider one of my strongest suits, so I have complete faith that no matter what the theme ends up being (as long as the theme isn’t “NOT ninjas/platformers” or some variation thereof), I will be able to adapt “ninja platformer” to it. I’ve already got a few ideas for some themes even as seemingly irrelevant as “flowers” and as vague as “collecting”, so I should be fine.
As a side note, this thing falls right around my birthday (24th), so I believe I have a pretty sweet card to play if I need to get people away from me so I can focus on this. Incidentally, I turn 23 this year. No joke, this particular LD is made for me haha.
Welp, I fear this post may be a bit too long, so I think I’ll end it here. Good luck to all, especially those who are doing this for the first time like I am!